Vietnam and the Netherlands are both delta countries, and face similar challenges and opportunities, especially in water management and climate change. Vietnam and the Netherlands have a long-standing strategic partnership to cope with Vietnam’s multiple water challenges: too much, too little and too dirty water. Currently, both countries are working together on transforming the agriculture in the delta, in combination with better water management.
1. Agriculture Transformation Program
In 2019, the Memorandum of Understanding on Netherlands - Vietnam cooperation on the Mekong Delta Agriculture Transformation Program (ATP) has been signed by the Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Mark Rutte, benchmarking the second phase in the existing long-term Netherlands – Vietnam strategic cooperation on water management and agriculture.
Within the framework of the ATP, the Netherlands offers experience sharing in sustainable development of the Mekong Delta; including planning, governance, investment and development strategies, especially investment in building key value chains for the Mekong Delta, focusing on shrimp and flower production, fruits and other crops that can thrive in salty soils. Vietnam can utilize the world leading knowledge and expertise of Dutch universities to deliver high-quality technical assistance, and thus launch a number of value chain development projects. The MD-ATP program is expected to complete in 2030, after developing and modernizing a range of agricultural joint ventures in the Mekong Delta.
2. Agro-Water contest
In the Agricultural Transformation Program,lan water management and agriculture are linked to address the increasing prevalence of flooding, drought, salt intrusion as well as land subsidence. To find concrete initiatives and solutions ideas, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands launched thean Agro-Water Contest. The embassy received 25 project proposals with sustainable, smart and innovative solutions.
In a video, the Dutch ambassador Elsbeth Akkerman announced the winners in 5 categories.
‘I’m looking forward to engage the winners and embed you and your ideas in the Transformation Program. But in fact, all competitors are winners, because the consortia that admitted the project proposals came up with concrete solutions for tackling the challenges in the Mekong Delta.,’ said Ambassador Akkerman.
3. The Dutch comprehensive approach
Water and agriculture are interrelated. Droughts in 2019 and 2020 triggered Dutch consultants from Deltares and Delft University to design systems to store water during the wet season in the sandy dunes of the Mekong Delta. At the start of the dry season, this water is pumped up and used to prolong the agricultural production. In the next wet season water is infiltrated again. This cycle is sustainable as long as water quality is good. It allows farmers to grow an extra crop without overexploiting.
The nexus approach goes beyond water-agriculture, expanding to other sectors, such as logistics, to improve market accessibility as well as product safety and quality. For instance, the Dutch-Vietnamese Waterborne partnership consisting of Royal Haskoning BV, STC International, Marin, Port of Rotterdam, Deltares, Noordersoft, Smart Atlantis, Solveigh Corporate Development BV, and CDR International is working on multi-model inland waterway transportation. This is in close partnership with Vietnam Inland Waterway Authority, Vietnam University of Transport Technology, and the Vietnam Maritime University.